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India: Modi asks for “forgiveness” from India’s poor after botched lockdown

The Indian government has apologized for the sudden manner in which it imposed its lockdown on the country, giving more than a billion people just hours to prepare.

Still, more than 3.38 billion people worldwide have been asked or ordered to follow confinement measures in the fight against COVID-19, AFP reports. That’s more than 4 in 10 people worldwide.

In New Delhi, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked the nation’s poor for “forgiveness” as the economic and human toll from his 21-day nationwide lockdown order deepens and criticism mounts over a lack of adequate planning. Reports by the NYT and other papers depicted millions of migrant workers forced to walk dozens of miles back home after being stranded when public transit shuttered. Many were confronted by police harassment that compounded an already intensely difficult situation.

“I apologise for taking these harsh steps that have caused difficulties in your lives, especially the poor people,” Modi said in his monthly address broadcast on state radio.

Authorities in India just reported that they’ve begun converting train coaches into isolation wards in preparation for a possible surge in new coronavirus cases, which they’ve been warning about for days now, though the other shoe hasn’t yet dropped.